Politics of Arvind Kejriwal
In our Delhi centric world, particularly in media, one can ignore Arvind Kejriwal only at the cost of turning inconsequential. The other side of the same argument is unless you are a hardcore RSS-VHP-type you are not expected to eulogise Narendra Modi. For the chatterati Arvind Kejriwal is fashionable while support for Narendra Modi symbolises complete lack of intellect. Forgotten by such commentariat is the fact as Tagore had said in his Sesher Kabita, a novel capturing the conflict between modern and traditional, that fashion is the mask while style is the inherent beauty. Mask is what sells. Hence media thrives on the mask. Style needs painstaking analysis to establish. In their daily grind neither the reporters nor their seniors have the patience to indulge in the luxury of analysing the intricacies of political messaging. More important, do their viewers and readers have the ability to fathom such difficult thoughts? Thus in media Arvind Kejriwal is the clear winner.
Even if we junk the VHP-RSS-types as outcasts can we, with our intellectual pretension, dismiss the Nobel laureate Amratya Sen? What did Sen say in a recent TV interview? He felt that the focus of the fledgling political party would require a change, ‘their understanding of equity may be somewhat distorted.’ Winning electoral dividend in the city of Delhi by influencing the migrants on the basis on rhetoric of ‘equity’ is just a one-off electoral success. AAP is yet to identify, according to Sen, the common man in the country and design its policies. Curiously media failed to raise this issue busy as they are in earning TRP or readership as part of their business.
Forget about issues media is busy talking incessantly of the mostly ‘had beens’ and ‘fringe activists’ who join Kejriwal’s outfit. The analysts fail to ask the party questions which an unbiased analyst should ask. Take the issue on ‘crony capitalism’ as articulated by Kejriwal in a CII meet. To him not all of the business community fall in the same category. Evidently Rajiv Bajaj is not a crony capitalist but Mukesh Ambani is. The unanswered question is what is, according to Kejrinomics, the definition of crony capitalism? Did the Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka point out large-scale crony capitalism in play in the state? Did Arvind Kejriwal in his first press conference take up these issues? Why did he keep quiet on the well-documented case thereafter? Does it not fall in the category of ‘crony-politicisation?’
Take another example, a story published in this newspaper on an ongoing IT investigation, how massive amount of unaccounted wealth came to light when the authorities investigated a food exporter. The same day when the report was published Arvind Kejriwal called a press conference to play his old and much used record on gas price and Mukesh Ambani. Curiously the Millennium Post report did mention role of certain very high and very mighty in the matter of ill-gotten wealth. Kejriwal, a former income tax official did not make any effort to dig deep and ask questions on the report. Does it not illustrate selective agenda of Arvind Kejriwal? As Amartya Sen rightly asked, who is the Aam Aadmi in Kejrinomics?
It seems that Kejriwal and his ideologue Yogendra Yadav are busy creating an environment with two objectives in mind. First they are looking for media attention. The income tax investigation or the Gurgaon land deals might not win them the requisite media notice since the target group in these cases is big advertisers. In the current day of depression, media needs advertisement to run the business. No media house would love to report prominently had Kejriwal taken these issues. But in contrast Narendra Modi is a safe bet. The commentariat hates him. Delhi media had never been cozy to him.
Thus a question or two on Modi, even if it is on a subject not related to him, makes PR sense. Mukesh Ambani is a collateral damage in the process. But unless one drags the name of the most well known Indian businessman how can Kejriwal drag Modi, the most popular politician of India, into it? Kejriwal is not serving his Aam Aadmi. He is serving his political ambition by repeatedly attacking Mukesh Ambani. Kejriwal and his party have a national ambition. It was expected that he would pass comment on the issues relating to the centre-state relation. More so since he had opposed on the centre’s role in approval of legislations in Delhi. But not a single word came out of him on Telangana issue. He did not perhaps see the news report on the Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalitha announcing parole for the Rajiv Gandhi killers. There was not a yelp from him or his party on the same. Did Kejriwal express his views on Penguin withdrawing Wendy Doniger’s book on Hinduism? There are many such issues. One suggestion here is a course correction for Arvind Kejriwal. Many of those who still have soft corners for the ‘innovative’ politics of his party are looking for a broad nationalistic outlook shunning away the narrow political brownie points.
Instead Kejriwal is narrowing his options to one single theme, that of bashing Narendra Modi. Since he has avoided communalism and casteism he has been painting Modi with the one-fits-all brush of corruption. To him wealth is a by-product of corruption. Therefore Mukesh Ambani is corrupt. Since Narendra Modi did not follow Kejriwal and turn an Ambani-baiter, he too is also corrupt. Curiously none in the media has bothered to ask Kejriwal the uncomfortable question.
The author is a communication consultant